'Feel The Yarn' 2016: interview with Yan Wen, winner of the special award offered by Salvatore Ferragamo

Knitting Time: knitting as an expression of the rhythm of daily life for 24 hours of pure creativity. This was the theme of 'Feel The Yarn', the competition directed by Pitti Immagine and Consorzio Promozione Filati, dedicated to aspiring designers from a selection of the best international fashion schools. The goal of the competition was to support young talented designers capable of distinguishing themselves with their original creations in knitwear, ehancing the creativity already innate in the yarns produced by the leading Italian manufacturers. 26 students from 13 schools and 22 Italian yarn producers participated in this edition, coordinated by the Consorzio Promozione Filati and the contestants were present at Pitti Filati, from 29 June to 1 July 2016, with their collections for Autumn/Winter 2017-18. While the 'Feel The Yarn 2016' award went to Wang Yanjun from the BIFT-Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology, a special award offered by Salvatore Ferragamo was won by Yan Wen from Polimoda in Florence. We interviewed the young student immediately after the competition to learn more about his career so far and his expectations for the future. 

Fashion: when did you realise that this was a world that you were attracted to and that could be your future?
In China I studied Computer Science at University and I have to admit that it didn’t really interest me very much, so I was looking for something more engaging and stimulating. I have always liked creative, new things and so I considered fashion. And so far I truly believe that it is the right world for me.
What fascinates you most about the world of knitwear?
I think that knitwear is a little different from other fields in the fashion world, where fabrics are used ready-made. Instead, in knitwear you always start from the yarns. Obviously you can work on the final fabric, but I find that you can already be very creative with the different kinds of stitches, and the various knitting techniques, so in my opinion you can truly do a whole lot more. And this is the aspect that fascinates me the most.
How did you approach your work for “Feel the Yarn” in terms of the plans you made, and can you tell us in general exactly what you presented?
When this project came along, I was already thinking about creating a collection inspired by firemen, their world and their style. So I decided to also create two knitted outfits. I continued researching my design and thanks to Pecci, an extremely important player in this sector, who had exactly the yarns I was looking for, I managed to complete them. So in the end I presented two outfits also featuring the pattern from a firemen’s jacket and even two backpacks inspired by the form of fire extinguishers.
Can you describe the emotion you felt at receiving such an important award?
Yes, it was definitely an emotion, because the award is an approval of my work and will naturally be helpful for my future profession. But rather than feeling excited about receiving an award, for me the most important emotion is my enthusiasm for fashion and for what I do.
Can you tell us about a particular memory of “Feel The Yarn”?
The fact that I saw so many wonderful works!
How important are competitions like this one for your career as a designer?
I don’t think I can call myself a “designer” yet, because I still have so much more to see and study. Projects like this one provide opportunities for learning about fashion outside the school environment and also the chance to learn more about myself: by defining my strengths and then the aspects I still need to work on. A project like this can also give you some new, fresh points of view. This is very important for me because it is essential to keep receiving new stimuli so that you do not lose your freedom of expression and creativity. 


Plans for the future?
To finish my studies at the Polimoda Institute in Florence, and then definitely fulfil my desire to get to know different countries, such as the United States and France, but also to develop my relationship with Italy. For me the important thing is never to stop looking at, learning about and living for fashion.